About

Keith Naitby

Having been obsessed with fish from early childhood and possessing an equal love for drawing and painting, it seems The Aqualife Gallery has always been meandering its way towards me.

It was the unknown creatures of a local river that fired my youthful enthusiasm for gazing into water, ever hopeful that a shadowy monster would appear from the depths. Through the wielding of nets, jam jars and eventually fishing rods those mysterious fish became well known to me. Once these natives had been inspected/photographed/drawn and released, it was time to discover the inhabitants from an exotic world.

Keith 1982
Keith 2015

Starting with a single aquarium I absorbed everything about the lives of tropical fish. From this first tank, the various twists and turns of fate would eventually find me running a substantial tropical fish hatchery some 20 years later. Despite my Mum hoping I would one day get a ‘proper job,’ I somehow made a living from my hobby and had the joy of breeding many fish known and unknown to science. Having supplied the aquarium trade for many years, this business sadly came to an end when my rented premises in the beautiful Essex countryside were sold for redevelopment.

Since then I’ve been lucky enough to pass some of my knowledge on to fellow enthusiasts through articles in Practical Fishkeeping magazine. It was during my research for a piece on South American fish that I discovered the art of a genius.

What follows is his story.


Flick Ford

Flick Ford fell in love with fishing at the age of five. His father, an accomplished fly-fisherman and talented commercial artist/copywriter, instilled in him a deep respect for nature and nurtured his early creativity.

Born in 1954 in Atlanta, Flick was raised in Winchester County, New York. Throughout the 1960s and 1970s Flick fished the Adirondacks, New England, Long Island Sound, Chesapeake Bay, Virginia and the woodland lakes of Quebec, while pursuing two other loves: ( as lead singer in a garage rock band ) and art. He took formal watercolour classes in the 1960s; figure drawing and graphic design classes from 1973 to 1976 and then studied art at Evergreen State College in Washington State.

Flick Ford

Flick moved to New York City in 1978 and dove into the audio/visual scene including indie film, video, underground publishing, cartooning, illustration as well as reconnecting with music. He performed in the East Village with several bands and continues to write, play harmonica and sing lead vocals for one of them, The Crazy Pages, which was formed in 1988.

Ford left New York in 1993, heading for the Hudson Highlands where he quickly became obsessed with fishing the New York City watershed. As he branched out to many of the brook trout places where he had previously fished in parts of the Adirondacks and Vermont, the effects of over twenty years of pollution, over-development and acid rain became painfully apparent.

Today Ford makes his home in Putnam County, New York. He fishes more than 100 days a year and ties his own flies. He selects every fish he paints for its relative size and beauty. After landing a fish, he quickly gets a digital photo before the colours fade, carefully measures it in all dimensions, sketches details, counts scales, fin rays and finally traces it to get its actual outline. He has developed a technique of successive washes utilizing masking fluid and painstakingly detailed dry brush that make these fish truly come to life on paper.

This is what the critics have to say about Flick Ford’s art.

“…beautiful, true-to-life watercolour paintings”-Fly Fishing in Salt Waters

“Never mind how he does it: the fact is that these fish appear  poised to swim off the very paper…”-Florida Sport Fishing Magazine

“…splendid… beautifully rendered in watercolour by Flick Ford”-The Ottawa Citizen


Our business

By working closely with Flick and his specialist printing company in the US, we’re thrilled to offer these stunning fish paintings in the UK for the very first time. Running this small business with my sister Maureen, we treat every beautiful print from this world renowned artist with meticulous attention. Unlike most online galleries we don’t operate a business where prints are produced only when an order is received. Every piece of artwork we send to customers has been printed in the US and held in archival boxes on arrival at our premises.

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Although its common practice for galleries to send prints rolled in tubes, we couldn’t bear the thought of treating Flicks’ magnificent fish in such a way. Wanting customers to experience the same thrill we felt on opening our first delivery, many weeks were spent finding a safe method for despatching prints ‘flat’ through our postal system. We have achieved this by sandwiching the artwork between two pieces of biodegradable foamboard and packing them into our own purpose made cardboard boxes. Having sent paintings across the globe it’s safe to say your prints will arrive in perfect condition.

 

With so many of these works purchased as gifts for fish mad enthusiasts, we wanted to add that final touch of something special for the recipient. A local company, close to our base in Chelmsford have designed and printed beautiful presentation folders that complement the colourful watery world of an artist and his fish.

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